Coming in a patch that's likely out tomorrow, Templar Assassin is the latest hero to be added to Dota 2, and she’s playable, right this very second, on the test server. Taking her for a quick spin against the bots, I’m coming away grinning like a loon. Sometimes a hero just clicks. Sometimes they’re the one for you. Sometimes they can deal lovely amounts of damage, place permanent wards wherever they like, and mince through creep waves in a matter of seconds, all the while harassing the hell out of your opponent. That last one is probably going to be a one-time-only sometime.
After a bit of reading and two games against bots, these are my first impressions of Templar Assassin.
She’s a bit of an odd one in that, up until she gets Blink Dagger, she’s firing on half cylinders, unable to set herself up for wonderful ambushes and frankly silly amounts of damage. Because of the way her abilities work she’s incredibly positional, which is why being able to teleport to a specific location is all but essential for her to deal proper damage.
Despite this, heading Mid to get levels and gold early, and grabbing Refraction, Templar Assassin’s Q, keeps you sustained until you’re ready to start unleashing your full potential. Refraction gives you a certain amount of stacks (that increase with level) that deflect any one instance of incoming damage. That’s not limited to right clicks, but nuke spells like Sniper, Zues or Lion’s ultimates, or even just Lina getting cocky. It means that you get to stay in line taking hits without getting hit, all the while chipping away at health.
Which is where Psionic Blades, her E passive, comes in. It changes her initial melee right click into a ranged, while also having her damage spill in a tight cone behind her target. If you angle it right you can get your last hits to proc against your opponent, which in theory gives you insane range, but with just one level in it you’re still going to be up close and personal for much of the early game. Putting more points into it increases the range.
Meld, her W, is her main damage dealer, which seems odd until you see that it adds an increasing amount of damage to her next attack from it. The problem is it also makes you invisible when you stand still, which might lead you to believe that hovering around waiting for someone to come along for you to ambush is the way to play. It’s not. It’s really not. It’s a quick fire temporary buff that can be used in a really tight spot to get some breathing room to pop off Refraction and get away from your opponents, maybe blink out, but using it then waiting for your opponents to come to you is a recipe for lost farm.
Finally, her ultimate, Psionic Trap is all round incredible. As you level it up you can put down more traps, but starting with five is more than enough. They’re permanent, grant sight, and can be set off individually whenever you like, slowing everyone around you. Once you’ve got these, you’re pretty much impossible to escape from, as they’re invisible to enemies and so they couldn’t avoid them even if they had some sort of wonderful escape.
With all that in mind, playing Lanaya is an absolute joy. It’s the kind of desperately risky play that attracts me so much to Spy in Team Fortress 2, forcing you to risk everything for everything, but if you can set up the right kind of attack you can utterly decimate the opposing team, especially if they’re stupid enough to bunch up when attacking a lane, so you can have your Psionic Blades proc the whole way down them. Especially if you’ve managed to Meld before hitting them. So much juicy damage.
Rushing Phase Boots and then Blink Dagger seems to be the best way to go, and I’ve read that grabbing BKB right after that is important for any game you’re not going to snowball from the offset. Otherwise items like Medallion and Desolator are going to make the armour reduction you already have from Meld just silly. Which is fun.
I’ve been waiting for a Mid lane hero that really clicks with me, and Templar Assassin is definitely it. The utility from her traps, the protection from Refraction (combined with the increased damage output from it) and the way Meld/Psionic Blades/Blink Dagger ambushes work all come together to make her just incredibly fun to play.
If all things go to plan, she should be hitting sometime tomorrow, or maybe even late tonight, along with the rest of the patch changes.